So you’re looking to join the scattergun ranks but not quite sure where to begin… Well, don’t you worry, the team at Mid Valley Clays Shooting School has you covered. We’ll help you along your journey and ensure you pick just the shotgun you’re looking for! We’ll break down the different uses, variations, and finally, some specific characteristics which may lend one or another to better suit your needs.
What is your primary use for the gun?
Shotguns are highly versatile, some filling a particular niche, and some all-purpose shotguns can be quite useful across multiple use-cases from bird hunting to shooting clay targets and possibly home defense. But there are, of course, some variants that lend themselves better to specific uses, and it makes sense to choose a shotgun that can do most of the things you need it to do. For instance, home defense shotguns are not much good sporting clays. But you can find a gun to go hunting that will also provide a great deal of fun on the skeet or trap range.
Whats your budget?
Shopping for a shotgun is a fun experience, both from a research and comparison standpoint, as well as the excitement that builds knowing you will very soon be learning how to use your new firearm. But setting yourself a budget and perhaps a little wiggle room is essential, so you don’t feel self-conscious or worried you overspent. Shotguns at MVC range from $1,600 to tens of thousands of dollars, not to mention the accessories you can add to make the perfect kit. For a beginner or first-time shotgun owner, we recommend setting yourself a healthy budget of about $2,500.
Are you interested in a classic break-action or a semi-auto?
Break-action shotguns are your over-under (o/u) and your side-by-sides. They are very popular among clay target shooters and upland bird hunters. With double barrels and a separate hammer and firing pin for each, these guns can be more reliable than a semi-auto with fewer misfires from chambering issues. Break-action shotguns start at about $2,000 and go up depending on materials and engraving.
Semi-automatic shotguns are great options for clay-target sports and hunting. A semi-automatic automatically champers the next shell after each shell is fired. As a result, they tend to have a lighter recoil than break-action but take some additional effort when it comes to cleaning and caring for them. Semi-automatic shotguns for sporting clays generally start around $1,700.
What Gauge are you looking for?
The 12 gauge has the largest range of shot shells made for any purpose. It is also the easiest ammunition to find.
20 gauge is a capable performer, strong enough for ducks, procuring ammunition is easy, and it makes a great starter gun for youth and women.
The 28 gauge is by definition a magnum shell and consequently has great performance on the clay target range or in the field. The ammunition can be quite a bit more costly than other gauges, however.
The .410 has historically been seen as a starter gauge for younger children due to the weigh of the firearm and the lightest recoil. In actuality, the shells are expensive due to the lower popularity.
But for your first shotgun, we recommend you go with either the 12 or 20-gauge. They’ll do everything you need them to do, are easiest to find ammunition for and you can’t go wrong with either of them.
As you can see, a lot goes into selecting your first shotgun or your next shotgun. We highly recommend starting your journey with a professional like the people you will find at Mid Valley Clays and Shooting School. We know the questions to ask to help you find the perfect gun for your needs. And we have a ton of shotguns you can rent so you can truly experience the differences between barrel lengths and gauges. And once you’ve purchased that new firearm, we’ll help you master it!